World Cup: Raheem Sterling happy to play anywhere for England
Last Updated: 24/06/14 6:41pm
Raheem Sterling says he is happy to play anywhere as the ‘Wayne Rooney question’ continues to dog England.
Sterling played in a central attacking position in the 2-1 defeat to Italy in the World Cup Group D opener and was generally acknowledged as the best England player on the night.
Rooney was deployed down the left, and although he set up Daniel Sturridge for England’s goal, many feel his best position would just behind the striker.
Boss Roy Hodgson therefore has a difficult selection decision ahead of Thursday’s crunch clash with Uruguay in Sao Paulo.
Sterling says he would be more than happy to move to accommodate Rooney, who has not tried to hide his irritation with the media for focusing on his performance and the debate over where - or indeed if - he should play.
"I would be happy to play anywhere the manager puts me," Sterling said. "I am a team player. I will be working for the team regardless of which position I play in.
"I don't think the team was built around me necessarily. I just think the manager thought that was the right position for me at the time, with my pressing and my closing down."
I would be happy to play anywhere the manager puts me. I am a team player. I will be working for the team regardless of which position I play in.
Sterling grew up in the shadow of Wembley Stadium and he admits he has been dreaming about playing for England since he was a little boy.
He now has a tattoo of a boy wearing 10 playing under the famous arch and Sterling says it symbolises the childhood dream he is now experiencing in real life.
"I grew up five minutes from the stadium," Sterling said. "I used to ride my bike round this little car park that was by the stadium.
"I used to say to myself 'one day, I'd like to play there, hopefully I could do that' and I am really grateful to be given that opportunity.
"I know there have been some great players who have played for this country so for me to be selected in the national team was a great achievement for me."
Sterling was happy with his performance at the Arena Amazonia and now he wants to put on another dazzling show in Sao Paulo on Thursday.
"It was a big occasion for me - my first competitive start, so I tried to think of it as just another game and give it my best shot," he said.
"It wasn't enough at the end of the day but the team did some really impressive stuff and we will go out on Thursday ready to go again."
Italy, as usual, were tough to break down, with Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo patrolling in front of a grizzled back four.
Uruguay, on the other hand, have a defence that contains Diego Lugano, who has just been released by West Brom.
"We have been looking at them, trying to find ways in which we can really hurt them and I think the manager has been preparing really well for this game," Sterling said.
Suarez has declared himself fit following a knee injury, but Sterling was hoping his Liverpool team-mate would not feature.
"I'd rather not see him on the pitch, really," Sterling said with a smile. "He is a great player, we all know that. But we can't be too focused on just him. We've got to realise they've got other world-class players as well, like Cavani.
"We've really got to think about their positives and negatives, not just Luis."